Review: THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE at Music Theatre of Connecticut

Glitz and fun at Music Theatre of Connecticut through March 3.

By: Feb. 18, 2024
Review: THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE at Music Theatre of Connecticut
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The most fun you will have in a theater this month is at the Music Theatre of Connecticut with its current production, The Legend of Georgia McBride. Before you start groaning that a play about an unsuccessful Elvis Presley impersonator turned drag queen is not your cup of tea, open your mind and read this.

Matthew López’s book is hysterically funny from start to finish, but also has some poignant and very relatable moments for everyone. The play takes place in Panama City Beach, FL supposedly in the present, but more likely before Ron DeSantis became governor. (That he would hate it should be reason enough to see the play.) Clint Hromsco reprises his role as Casey, which he played at Connecticut’s Ivoryton Playhouse. Casey’s Elvis impersonations are just not bringing in the crowds. His rent check bounced because he spent money on a pizza. His wife, Jo (Teagan La’Shay) waits on tables at a local diner. Their car is “held together by duct tape and optimism,” and her pregnancy test comes out positive.

To make things worse, his cantankerous boss Eddie (Scott Mikita) decides to can the Elvis act and hire his cousin, played by Russell Saylor, a drag queen who goes by the name Miss Tracy Daniels. Tracy brings his sidekick, Rexy (Diva LaMarr, who also plays Casey’s longtime friend and landlord, Jason). Casey is lucky to stay on as bartender until Rexy is plastered and can’t perform. He suggests that he revive his Presley number, but Eddie insists that the audience wants to see a drag show. Tracy urges him to try it. It goes beyond, “Try it, you’ll like” into something completely unexpected. Tracy comes up with his stage name, Georgia, where his mother was born, and McBride, the last name of the first girl he kissed. In a very short time, he masters lip synching and motions to contemporary performers such as Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, and Cindi Lauper. Georgia McBride becomes a star and Cleo’s is attracting enough audiences to have multiple shows each night with themes for every holiday. For Casey, the tip money is coming in in buckets. Although he is successful, he is reluctant to tell his wife about his new career.

Of course, Jo is going to find out. And she will be shocked and hurt, as expected. What is unexpected is the honesty and courage of Casey’s colleagues at Cleo’s. Tracy reveals his past hurts and how he overcame them. Rexy tells his story of the strength and bravery he developed after being severely beaten in Houston. He tells Casey, "Drag is a raised fist inside a sequined glove." Casey has a new respect for them and realizes that drag is not just about cross-dressing, sequins, and makeup. It’s a deep and long journey to finding yourself, learning to like yourself, and doing something meaningful in your life.

In addition to the Rexy’s one-line explanation of drag, there are a lot of very funny quips throughout the play. Rexy’s stage name is Anorexia Nervosa (“That’s Italian,” he says.) Casey tells Jo that they will be the best parents since Mary and Joseph, to which Jo replies, “Yeah, but then their kid died.”

Kevin Connors’s superb direction conveys that. The entire cast is plausible and outstanding. Hromsco ((www.clinthromsco.com), Saylor, and Lamarr (@divalamarr) give their roles value and esteem. La’Shay (www.teaganlashay) is likeable as Casey’s loving but realistic wife. Mikita is perfect as a foil to the dreamers he hires.  April M.Bartlett (www.AprilBartlettDesign.com) created multiple mini-sets on Music Theatre of Connecticut’s intimate stage – Casey and Jo’s apartment, Casey’s bar, the dressing room, and the hall outside Tracy’s apartment. Diane Vanderkroef, Connecticut Music Theatre’s resident costume designer, delivers great outfits as always.

After the show I met a couple who had never been to Music Theatre of Connecticut, and they were very impressed that the professionalism and quality of the show are on a par with shows they’ve seen in Manhattan. Every performer is a member of Actors’ Equity Association. It’s easy to get to and there’s ample free parking.

Here’s some more exciting news. Music Theatre of Connecticut bought the entire building and is going to expand. How exciting is that? They’ve raised a lot of money for the expansion, but there is currently a drive to reach its goal by the end of February. Music Theatre of Connecticut is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

The Legend of Georgia McBride plays through March 3 at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Avenue (just before McDonald’s) in Norwalk. Pride Night is March 2. For tickets, call (203) 454-3883 or order online at www.www.musictheatreofct.com not just for this show, but for the next one, Ghost: The Musical (April 12 through 28). It’s based on the hit film with book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin and music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard.




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